We have seen a "major" shift in this category recently. It started last year when Michael Bowers, the Modern Hotel and Bar's master mixologist, unseated longtime repeat winner Mark Allen, formerly at Red Feather and now Barbacoa's consummate cocktail crafter. Major Ludwig is the man in command behind the bar at Rice Contemporary Asian Cuisine and the newest alcohol artist with a Best Local Bartender win under his belt. Ludwig's clever creations match the swank atmosphere at the Pan-Asian restaurant (see Best Local Martini) and if he keeps it up, we may see his name at the top of the best bartender list again next year. 228 E. Plaza Drive, Eagle, 208-939-2595, riceeagle.com.
Second Place: Michael Bowers, The Modern Hotel and Bar, themodernhotel.com
Third Place: Mark Allen, Barbacoa, barbacoa-boise.com